Mother Earth Living

95 Great Green Products

Fill your home from top to bottom with stylish, sustainable décor, textiles, bedding, flooring, carpet, rugs, cabinets, counters, lighting, furniture and hardware.
Natural Home Staff
July/August 2010
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Organic fabrics are healthier for your home and for the planet. Some of our favorite fabrics come from Mod Green Pod, Twill Textiles, Carnegie, Cloud 9, Rubie Green, Michael Miller, Unika, Aurora Silk and Alabama Chanin.
Photo By Povy Kendal Atchison
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Fill your home from top to bottom with stylish, sustainable décor, textiles, bedding, flooring, carpet, rugs, cabinets, counters, lighting, furniture and hardware.

For a full listing of more than 500 great green products, visit our comprehensive 2010 Resource Guide.

Keep one paint color the same in every room, whether on the trim, the ceiling or the door. This will build a sense of cohesion throughout your home. Choose a low- or zero-VOC paint or nontoxic milk or clay paint.

See our entire home decor guide. 

See our entire paint, wallcoverings, plasters and finishes guide. 

Fabric for your life 

Organic cotton 
• Grown and processed without chemicals
• We like it because it's safer for workers to harvest and uses less water than conventional farming.
• Ask if it was finished with chemical dyes or stain-repellent/flame-retardant coatings.

Organic wool
• Grown without pesticides, hormones or genetic engineering
• We like it because it's durable, breathable and naturally flame-retardant
• Ask if it was dyed with petroleum-based chemicals.

Peace silk 
• Protein fiber spun by silk moth larvae to make cocoons
• We like it because the peace silk process allows the silkworm to live.
• Ask how to take care of the delicate fibers.

Hemp• Strong-fibered plant that grows well without chemicals
• We like it because it's durable, versatile, mold- and UV-resistant.
• Ask your local congressman why it’s illegal to grow hemp in the United States.

See our entire fabrics and upholstery guide. 

To turn bamboo’s stiff stalk into a soft fiber, the plant goes through a rigorous chemical process—the same one used to create rayon. The end product is a chemical soup that’s anything but natural. In 2009, the Federal Trade Commission charged four sellers of bamboo textile items with deceptively labeling items as made of bamboo fiber when they were actually rayon. Read more about the trouble with bamboo.

Pick good cotton 

When shopping for organic sheets and bed linens, keep these definitions in mind.

Organic: Cotton grown without pesticides on fields that haven’t been fertilized with chemicals or sewage sludge. Organic fiber processing standards also exist: Under them, the manufacturing processes must not be known to cause cancer, genetic damage, birth defects or endocrine disruption. Processing materials also must be biodegradable and meet strict toxicity levels.

Natural: Cotton that has been conventionally cultivated, generally using pesticides, but has been processed in an environmentally friendly way without bleach or harmful dyes. “Natural” is not a term that’s regulated by U.S. law.

Naturally colored: Cotton that derives its color (ranging from cream and tan to avocado and chocolate) from the natural hue of different cotton and thereby eliminates the need for toxic chemical dyes.

Green: Cotton that has been grown without chemicals and pesticides, and processed using the least environmentally damaging dyes, bleaches and cleaning processes. Danish Green cotton is a specific brand that adheres to this definition. “Green” is not a term that’s regulated by U.S. law.

Recycled: Known as Eco Fibre, recycled cotton fabric is made from cotton that would normally be cast off during the spinning, weaving or cutting process. No harsh chemicals are used in its processing.

The United States has no official set of standards to certify textiles. The private Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) addresses environmental and social issues such as energy use, waste, toxicity of dyes and processing, and fair working conditions.

Most mattresses are made from polyurethane foam, sprayed with chemical fire retardants and covered with polyester fabric. When it’s time for a new bed, buy a natural mattress or futon made of cotton, wool or natural latex foam. (They cost about the same as a high-end synthetic mattress and box spring.) Natural mattresses are designed to address health issues ranging from arthritis, lower-back pain and asthma to allergies and extreme chemical sensitivities.

See our entire organic bedding and mattresses guide. 

Preserve your hardwood floors 

• Clean up water spills immediately. Liquids can damage the finish or warp the boards.

• Place felt pads under furniture to prevent scratches.

• Pick up furniture when moving it.

• Hang curtains or blinds to prevent sun damage.

When cleaning a natural floor, never use too much water; oversaturating can cause wood boards to warp and cork flooring to swell. Always use a gentle cleanser; harsh cleaners can strip away natural coatings and damage finishing. A solution of warm water and dish soap or vinegar can usually get the job done.

See our entire flooring guide. 

Heavy duty herbal carpet shampoo 

This packs a punch when it comes to cutting grease and removing tough dirt from carpet.

3/4 cup very hot water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide (omit for dark-colored carpet)
1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
1 tablespoon powdered citric acid
20 drops grapefruit seed extract

Combine all ingredients in a container or bowl. Blend well to evenly distribute. Pour formula into your steam cleaner and clean your carpet.

­—Reprinted with permission from The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier 

Clean carpet without chemicals 

• Clean up spills as soon as possible.

• Remove food stains with a solution of vinegar and a bit of dishwashing soap.

• Blot blood stains with cold water or club soda.

• Sprinkle mud stains with salt or baking soda; wait 30 minutes, then vacuum.

• Cover ink stains with cream of tartar, then squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice on top. Using the flesh of the lemon, gently go over the spot a few times. Brush away the powder and blot with a damp sponge.

­—Reprinted with permission from The Naturally Clean Home: 150 Super-Easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning by Karyn Siegel-Maier 

Be careful not to saturate your carpet when using liquid cleaners or even water. Wet backing gives an invading stain a safe place to hide and makes it much more difficult to remove.

See our entire carpet and rugs guide. 

Stone cleaner 

2 tablespoons biodegradable liquid soap
4 cups water
32-ounce spray bottle

Pour soap and water into spray bottle and shake gently until completely combined.

Solid materials 

Recycled glass: made from reclaimed bottles, set in slabs of poured concrete

Bamboo: made from the fast-growing plant

Natural stone: granite, marble, quartz, soapstone, slate

Recycled paper: paper compressed under high pressure, finished with natural resin

Agricultural fiber: wheat, sorghum straw, coconut

See our entire cabinets and countertops guide.

Light motif 

For health and comfort, lighting is one of your home’s most important components. These tips can help you get your lighting right.

• Consider both the fixture and the room. How high are the ceilings? How big is the room? What kind of light should the fixture give off?

• Mirrors bounce light around the room, making it feel more spacious.

• Wall lamps can provide focused, direct light while leaving a side or end table free.

• Kitchens need general lighting as well as task lighting for performing detailed jobs.

• Maximize your home’s lighting efficiency with dimmers, motion sensors and timers.

Pulling double duty 

Have a small space? Opt for furniture that has more than one use.

Dining/end table: A large end table can  also be used as a dining table or extra table for dinner parties.

Upholstered dining chairs: Though small in size, they’re nearly as comfortable as occasional chairs, making them useful as desk chairs, bedside chairs and extra living room seating.

Night and day bed: This backless piece feels less overpowering in a small room than a sofa would. Set against a wall and lined with pillows, it’s a sofa. Remove the pillows, and it’s a bed.

Storage ottoman: Holds blankets, pillows and any useful items you want to tuck away.

Reprinted with permission from The Comfortable Home: How to Invest in Your Nest and Live Well for Less by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams 

See our entire lighting and furniture guide.

Replacing hardware is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to give your home new spark. New or vintage hardware is inexpensive in comparison with other renovation products, and is an easy DIY project. Pick functional, easy-to-clean hardware for the kitchen and bathroom, and decorative hardware for the bedroom and living room.

See our entire hardware guide.


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